Since it opened in 1934, the Washington Park Arboretum has been home to thousands of plant collections and species, each with a meticulously kept record and history. A computerized database for record keeping was established in the early 1990s but more than 55 years of the earlier records have remained preserved solely on paper, scribbled on grid maps or recorded in countless handwritten notes.
While its official opening is nearly three months away, the Bullitt Center is already being dubbed the greenest commercial building in the world, and the UW Integrated Design Laboratory is getting in on the ground floor, literally.
Currently located just west of campus on Northeast Northlake Way, the lab is preparing to move into the first floor of the Bullitt Foundation’s new headquarters at 1501 East Madison Street between downtown and Capitol Hill in late April.
A UW-led research group may soon play a major role in reducing U.S. dependency on foreign oil and greenhouse gases, thanks to a $4 million award in early January from a government research agency called the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
The group is composed of four partners and several UW graduate and undergraduate students, working on a project to develop a genetically-modified microbe that will transform methane, the main component in natural gas, into liquid fuel for transportation.
Christopher Meek is a research associate professor in the University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning. He and Kevin G. Van Den Wymelenberg of the University of Idaho co-authored the book “Daylighting Design in the Pacific Northwest,” published in December 2012 by University of Washington Press. Meek answered a few questions about the book for UW Today.
Q: What’s the basic concept behind “Daylighting Design in the Pacific Northwest”?
“Plastics Unwrapped,” Dec. 20-May 27, 2013. Humans existed without plastics for centuries, but now we rely on them to meet our basic needs. They help us stay healthy, yet they linger, in landfills for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture takes a look at our relationship with plastics, past and present. “In order to counter the impact of plastic waste, we need to rethink our relationship with plastics,” advance notes for the exhibit say. “Discover how, at ‘Plastics Unwrapped.’”
The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded a group led by the University of Washington $4 million to develop bacteria that can turn the methane in natural gas into diesel fuel for transportation.
“The product that we’re shooting for will have the same fuel characteristics as diesel,” said principal investigator Mary Lidstrom, a UW professor of chemical engineering and microbiology. “It can be used in trucks, boats, buses, cars, tractors – anything that diesel does now.”
Where others see piles of rubber, Ricky Holm eyes a heap of opportunity. Mountains of used tires once littered his favorite drag race entryways and rimmed the tracks at his motocross competitions. But with encouragement from his father, Ricky developed a way to recycle old tires into a new technology.
“Innovation is in our blood – I knew I could solve this huge environmental problem,” says Ricky, a senior in the Foster School of Business. “The UW gave me the resources and the motivation to really flesh out my idea.”
At first glance, the new Chevy Malibu jacked up on the ground-floor lab of the University of Washington's mechanical-engineering annex doesn't look like anything special — except that it's missing its engine.
When they're done with it, though, several dozen of the school's engineering students will have transformed it into one of two electric-biodiesel hybrid Chevy Malibus in the world that run on two separate motors — one for the front wheels, one for the back.